Last Friday evening I made a trip to Guildford to be on the panel of Hot Coalition Politics - a Question Time type event organised by the Guildford Liberal Democrats.
Well, it was absolutely wonderful :)
The venue was a church hall which the Guildford party often uses and there was something very nice about being in there surrounded by fellow Lib Dems and being able to chat and catch up on all the gossip prior to the event. It just shows how right people are when they describe being a member of a political party like being part of a family.
The debate itself was fairly interesting - we got a lot of good questions from the audience and an impressive range of topics were covered (the debate was limited to only covering national topics as the plan is to hold further debates on other topics - such as local issues - in the future).
I particularly liked the way in which there was such a variety of views on the panel - I'm not sure whether my views changed as a result of the debate but I really enjoyed the fact that we weren't all toeing the same, identical party line and that, compared to most formal debates, the panel was actually fairly diverse.
Another highlight was the chair, Antony Hook, who actually did a far better job than Mr Dimbleby - in that he never tried to influence the debate, his jokes were funny, and he actually made sure that a wide range of questions got selected.
The actual questions asked varied from whether our record in government was something to be proud of, to whether local government was fit for purpose, to the issue of House of Lords reform. My one regret is that I wasn't really able to say as much about the Welfare Reform Act, and its perniciousness, as I would have liked - in hindsight I was probably overly wary about going on too much about the same issue.
I was quite pleased after the event to discover that a recording had been made of the debate as at least one of my friends had asked me to let me know if there was any way they could watch the debate despite being unable to attend. I should be getting a dvd of the video in the post at some point in the near future but unfortunately it's probably going to be too big to practically upload.
So instead, here's a photograph from the middle of the debate - in which I demonstrate my trademark habbit of always managing to blink at the exact moment a photograph is taken.